By Jennifer Braisted, Director of Government Affairs, Alzheimer’s Association Florida Chapters
Another legislative session has come and gone. Florida has continued its commitment to move the needle forward to make the Sunshine State dementia capable.
This year brought a historic year of funding. The legislature increased funding for many Alzheimer’s programs that provide respite, education and awareness. This year’s 60-day session also saw the passage of legislation we have been working on for the past three years.
- The Florida Legislature finally passed the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Education and Training Act (HB 299). The Alzheimer’s Association and our advocates have been working tirelessly to move this bill forward over the past few years. To see it come in for a landing is remarkable. HB 299 will ensure that all long-term care providers have minimum dementia training standards. This bill will close gaps in existing training requirements. New long term care providers included in this bill are general assisted living facilities, adult family care homes and nurse registries. According to the Alzheimer’s Association Dementia Care Practice Recommendations, direct care workers in long-term care are the single most important determinant of quality dementia care. A cornerstone of quality dementia care is dementia specific training.
This new training requirement will provide peace of mind for Florida’s 827,000 dementia caregivers when making the difficult decision to utilize long-term care. Association advocates worked tirelessly to pass this bill. Advocates traveled across the state to come to Tallahassee, used their voices on social media, testified in front of committees, wrote articles in their local papers and made countless phone calls, emails and tweets.
HB 299 was signed into law on June 22, 2023.
- We also saw historic funding for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. The Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative (ADI) saw a $12.5 million increase in funding. Eight million will go towards the memory disorder clinics to expand awareness and diagnostic services. The additional $4.5 million increase will go toward the ADI waitlist for respite services. It is critical that caregivers have access to respite services in order to give them a break and tend to their own health. Florida currently has a significant waitlist with over 16,000 individuals on the waitlist for dementia specific respite services as of April 2023. The additional funding should hopefully remove an additional 4,000 individuals off the waitlist. This brings the ADI funding total to $65 million .
- The Alzheimer’s Association is celebrating the governor and the legislature’s decision to increase funding for the Brain Bus program by over 54 percent. This year the legislature allocated $491,614 to fund the Brain Bus, the largest amount of funding the program has ever seen. This increase will help us to expand our awareness efforts across the state.
In total, all Alzheimer’s funding within the state equaled around $82 million! We are already gearing up for the 2024 legislative session which begins in January. We are always looking for advocates to help advance our mission. If you are interested in getting involved in state advocacy efforts, please email Jennifer Braisted at email@example.com.